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--Updated 26 September, 2016

  News & Views Monday 26th September to Sunday 2nd October 2016  
‘It’s Time to Think Again About Immigration Detention’

In early September, the new Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill announced the closure of Dungavel, the only detention centre in Scotland.  The centre will be replaced in late 2017 by a short-term holding facility at Glasgow Airport, where migrants will be held for a few days just before removal.  The deeply unpopular indefinite detention of migrants in Scottish detention centres will come to an end. If there have been few celebrations of the demise of Dungavel, it is because everything depends on what happens next.  In the worst case scenario, this could be seriously bad news for migrants in Scotland in the return process.  If detention business continues as usual, after being detained, they will simply be transferred after a few days to an English detention centre.  Since there is no centre north of Lincolnshire, they will be many hours away from friends and family.

But more importantly, they will be in a different legal system: they may need to abandon any pending legal challenges in the Scottish courts, leave their Scottish solicitors, and start looking for a new English solicitor.  Convenient for the Home Office in attempting to remove them, one might say.

Those of us who defend migrants’ rights tend to assume the worst of the government’s intentions, and there is unquestionably a serious risk that this scenario will come to pass.  However, the closure of Dungavel does not take place in isolation.  This is the third detention centre to close in the last 18 months, after Halsar and Dover.

Read more: Jerome Phelps, Justice Gap, http://tinyurl.com/gsdok4


 

Sharia Councils: A Parallel Legal System For Women or a Requirement of Faith?

 Aina Khan, Head of the Islamic Department at the law firm Duncan Lewis and campaigner for better protection for women believes she has the answer. She launched her campaign ‘Register `Our Marriage’ in 2014 to lobby for a change in the law and to spread awareness of lack of rights.  “The Marriage Act 1949 must be updated to require all faiths to register their marriages. This would mean Muslims must register religious ceremonies under civil law, just like they do in every Muslim country. (For decades, Imams abroad have faced criminal prosecution if they carry out an unregistered marriage and the husband is declared on a woman’s ID card. There are also civil systems in place for divorce). This change in our law will give British Muslim women the right to a civil divorce and a share of matrimonial finances. This civil divorce can be simply mirrored by an Islamic divorce from a Sharia Council within a few weeks and at low cost. This is already being done by my Islamic Department, which does not charge a client for an Islamic divorce if they have already obtained a civil one, and the fee of the Sharia Council is £100. In contrast, if there has not been a civil marriage, the fee of the Sharia Council is £300-£400 because of the extra work needed to investigate the divorce application. Plus I am increasingly hearing complaints of one year plus delays and misogyny, which causes deep distress to women who are already suffering.

Duncan Lewis:  http://tinyurl.com/jxsjmd6


Canada Detains Hundreds of Children For Immigration Violations

Canada regularly detains hundreds of children who have run afoul of the country’s immigration laws – including some who are held in correctional facilities and even in solitary confinement, according to a new report calling for sweeping reforms to the practice. Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 242 children were detained across Canada over immigration violations, according to the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto. Their report, released on Thursday, sheds light on these detentions, which range in length from days to several months, and calls for urgent reform to a Canadian practice that has attracted consistent criticism from the United Nations.  “What’s happening with children in detention really runs counter to the narrative of Canada as a global human rights promoter,” said Samer Muscati, the report’s editor. “Canada has signed international agreements, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which clearly states that any detention has to be done as a last resort and for the least amount of time possible.”

Read more: Ashifa Kassam, Guardian, http://tinyurl.com/zdkovkd